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I can't work out poles. Think you need a premium membership. Since I can't draw to save my life and I seem to be getting worse at it, I began wondering how my watchers, and the people I watched, got where they are. I don't just mean people who are experts. Just anyone whose style has changed over the years.

How did you guys improve? By practice and pure raw talent? Did some of you guys go to art college? Are some skills best learnt in graphics?
Youtube tutorials? XD And what's the hardest things you find in drawing? Mine is faces at certain angles. They are the devil.


Lifeforce Chapter 72

"If you can accept losing, you can't win."

Vince Lombardi

My Kingdom for a Horse

Skii couldn't stop himself from gawking. He and Bagogg stood on the overhang; no longer viewing the half-frozen factory he'd been present in moments ago, but at a wide-open space on the other side of the observant chamber. Standing outside amidst a flat portion of ground (clearly it had been eroded to such smoothness; no surface on Reepor was naturally that flat) was a giant machine that he could only describe as 'kind of a canon'. It had a long, thin barrel in proportion to the bulky stand; narrow as it looked the tube could have been as wide as a line of houses. It was half vanished; he could see scaffolding around the 'canon' thing. It wasn't even finished and he felt in awe of it.

For the lack of a better term, the cragmites working on it looked like...ants. Bagogg was smirking at him, he could see the larger insect-like creature out of the corner of his eye. To say he looked smug would be a grave understatement. "...What is it?" Skii finally asked, his eyes wide enough to pop right from his skull.

"A Class Three Planet Smasher." Bagogg surmised with a proud sort of grin. Skii's eyes bulged.

"There's a class two and one?"

Bagogg gave a hearty laugh. Skii felt deflated with shock. "You've been stuck in the perimeter of your rank for a bit too long, Skii. You need to move about more to keep up with the times."

"I've never seen a planet smashed." Skii's voice came out a little oddly. "I thought we just took over them nowadays."

"Oh, we do." Bagogg drawled off-handedly. His smile lessoned; he was thinking. Skii cocked his head to the side.

"So a big...thingy? I mean, it's amazing." He gestured limply with his arm at it; his limb feeling quite floppy. "But what...planet do you plan on...smashing?"

Bagogg's smirk grew.

"Oh. We've already used it. It worked without the finishing touches."


Skii kept his face totally blank. He watched as the warrior placed his long curling hands behind his back as he surveyed his contraptions getting its 'finishing' touches.

"But...wouldn't we all have noticed?"

"That's the beauty of the Third Class." Bagogg drawled, his smile gone; a serious, scrutinizing look appearing in its wake. "No rumble, no crack. It happened so quickly no one saw it coming. At least, no one outside of my factory's perimeter. You would have been taking out that lombax general back at the bridge anyway."

Skii's insides churned.


It wasn't possible.

The shard falling from the sky.

" used it on." Passive face, not too blank, no worry, no concern. He repeated these in his head, brow creasing to a form a perfectly acceptable 'quizzical' look. When inside he was close to yelling. Bagogg paced a little away from him mid-sentence, but Skii remained where he was, "What was the conditions of the attack? Was there a significant threat?"

Well obviously there would have been...

Bagogg eyed the giant canon below for a few moments, in silence, before giving a faint grin. "I'll explain all of that later, Skii – Emperor Maliko will be wanted you back soon. Can't have his best assassin wandering around grubby factories, eh? Don't worry. The story's worth the wait."

Skii's lips twitched upward just a little. "...Uh huh."

He had to tell his dingbat friends.

Or maybe just Skeet. Wilt wouldn't get it.

He turned away and began towards the elevator; glancing back at Bagogg once. The larger cragmite gave a goodbye 'nod' before turning away himself. Skii stepped onto the elevator, brow furrowed so tightly the muscles in his forehead just beginning to sting.

Had Maliko authorized the construction of such a thing? Bagogg had only just got back – had he kept the project on ice until then?

Heh. On ice.

Skii had to admit, it was impressive and well – he was no professional so the highest compliment he could fathom was that it was 'incredibly cool'. Even if it was mind boggling. How do you even build a weapon so...big?

He idly scratched at his jaw line, his unease fading a tad. Building weapons at least was normal. But then the memory of what he saw slinked back into his brain like a parasite. The churning in his stomach returned full on and he bit back a groan. He'd talk to his friends, then hear what Bagogg had to say. THEN he'd tell Maliko about...whatever. Otherwise he would sound like an insane person.

Skii felt a little more at ease having some kind of plan. When he returned to the conveyer belt room he found no traces of ice left, no chilly atmosphere. All was well.

He shrugged and wandered on.


This was it. Her opening.

She grinned – she could feel herself able to grin at last. Both figuratively and literally. Ratchet wouldn't have opened it, not now. He was too frightened; he evaded her; Ickabar's warnings had done their job. But nothing would stop themBut she was almost free. She felt a buzz through her barely-together form; she'd been a fog, a cloud, condensing like solid ice. Almost there.

She laughed, and the fabric of reality itself shivered with it.


There was no pause, no contemplation. This had happened too many times for it to occur. The second Nefarious had torn off through the air towards the enemy cruisers, Ratchet had sped off after him. Tenahee was with him, teeth gritted, face hard, and he wondered if she was feeling the same gut-wrenching panic he was right now. This had been there last chance; their one advantage. If Nefarious delivered the artefact straight into Tachyon and the Loki's grubby hands –

They were both wrenched back like a pair of dogs on a leash. Ratchet gagged, spluttered, and turned. Raymas was gripping the back of each lombax's shirt, his face set in a frown.

"Raymas, what are you –"

"There's no way you'll catch up to him this way." Ramyas said, flatly. He hefted his chin; gesturing at the electric currents Nefarious was oh-so casually avoiding. He was miles by now, had to be. Ratchet felt defeat wash over him like an especially salty wave. He gripped his jaw with a near quivering hand. Tenahee ran her fingers through her thick hair, her mouth an odd squiggly line. Clank bent his head.

"He is right, Ratchet. Tachyon's cruisers will be here shortly – we must get back to the others and flee while we have the chance."

"Yeah, they've been pinging us like a pit ball in an arcade through this whole thing." Ratchet muttered through his teeth.

Tenahee cursed quietly under her breath. "I know Nefarious doesn't exactly have ears, but didn't he hear anything we said to Orange about 'the galaxy WILL be destroyed?'

"The others threw Nefarious out." Ratchet said, bitterly. "I hope they flatten him as soon as he –"

"We have to go. Now." Raymas gave his shoulder a sharp tug and began dragging him back to their ship. A sharp line of pain sprinted up Ratchet's arm and he bit down on his lip.

"Fine. Fine."


Tenahee halted. She was looking past his shoulder at something. The slightly shorter lombax frowned quizzically.

Then he remembered.

Ratchet stopped, ignoring Raymas's tugs, and gazed behind him at the Orange's still body.

He looked peaceful. His face had loosened; no contorting grin or frown, no insane, popping eyes. The redness – the blood – seeped soundlessly and undisturbed across the purple rock. His fur ruffled in the harsh breeze. Ratchet didn't know what he felt.

He and Tenahee wandered back to him. They didn't kneel down and cry. He was their enemy; they loathed him. He'd wanted them dead for the fun of it so why did Ratchet feel terrible?

He screwed his eyes shut. "...He wouldn't have turned out like this if it weren't for Tachyon."

"...Maybe he wanted revenge, in his own, crazy little world." Tenahee murmured.

Raymas cleared his throat. Both lombaxes lifted their heads.

"...He wouldn't have mourned you. Many suffered at his hands – many." His frown deepened at that. "Let's go. We cannot bring him with us."

Tenahee ducked her head, stared at Orange once, before striding off. Ratchet gazed down at the brightly coloured body, too. Was this really it? It had been so quick. It didn't feel right.

"...he is at peace now, wherever he is." Clank said, quietly. Ratchet was probably the only one who heard him.

Ratchet turned away and walked. He couldn't do anything; he didn't even have a sheet to cover the body. He hadn't blown up or toppled into an abyss like most villains. Orange was...

He thought no more of it. Orange's body eventually faded from his view.

Cronk and Zephyr were standing on the ramp, and they gave an angry whoop as they came into their radius. "What the heck happened out 'dere?!"

"Nefarious took the artefact." Ratchet grumbled, pushing past them. He speed-walked his way to the pilot seats, "And we probably won't be able to catch up to him."

"Those cruisers are too many; we'll get blown to bits." Tenahee said, flopping down into the other seat. "But – won't they have trouble getting the thing open?"

All heads turned her way as the ship started up. She shrugged,

"...I mean...didn't you say that we needed you to figure out how to open it, Raymas?"

Ratchet glanced the green man's way. Raymas looked down.

"It depends. They won't be able to do it outright...but they may find a way around, especially if the Loki is involved. But it means we have a little bit of time left for us yet. They may have the artefact, but they can't open it right away. That –"

"Gives us a chance to steal it back. We'll rescue Percy while we're at it." Ratchet cut in, grasping the control sticks and raising the ship up. "That's our next step and no more stalling."

"We have no other option." Raymas didn't exactly sound enthusiastic of Ratchet's plan but agreed anyhow. Good. Ratchet was done debating.


They took off. Ratchet prepared hyper-drive. All the while a little orange blur, not even a focused image, lingered in the back of his head.


The Asteroid Base of Archaeology was gutted. What was a semi-functioning station amidst the belts in space was now worse than a ghost ship; walls sparked with exposed wiring and cables; screens buzzed with static (the ones that still managed to turn on, and weren't cracked) every patch of floor was littered with rubble, paper, metals shards and dislodged tools and stationary. Desks tipped over; escape ships torn in half. The lights could have been smeared with Vaseline they were that dim.

Trisby barely recognised the place. It hadn't been long ago, she knew, that she'd been holed up here with Cronk and Zephyr while the 'villain' forces rammed themselves against the outside of the base like angry bulls. But now she was back in one of the control rooms; a single table having been re-set and covered with little candles, standing in front of various buzzing screens and surrounded by barely functioning buttons. Sat at the table were two bandaged men, almost half-mummy, and a single green-grey robot with a rectangular eye, tin can shaped head and standard build. Boddo, Marvo and Canter.

They, too, were hard to recognise. Canter had been helping the resistance and now donned various dents and scrapes upon his study frame; Boddo's oversized goggles were cracked and Marvo looked a decade or two older; both markazian-like beings beaten and ruffled and generally woebegone.

Now that the place looked as shabby as an old bomb shelter, Tachyon's forces had left the place alone. It seemed a good spot to hide out while she dealt with...things.

Trisby gave a pronounced sigh. Before any of the archaeologists could respond, a ringing sound split the silence. A suspicious frown littering her face, she turned around and saw that on the control panel along the room from her was bleeping. Boddo shuffled out of his chair, looking rather floppy, and plucked up the communicator. It was linked to the panel by a cord – very, very old fashioned technology; more of a fashion preference than anything else.

The cat-like creature folded her arms. Boddo's glazed eyes came alight and he glanced at her in horror. "'s...for you."

He held out the communicator. Trisby hopped down from one control panel, stormed over, and dragged herself onto the next. Cords be damned.

She snatched the phone (Boddo reeled back) and held it near her diminutive ear.


"Good evening." A smooth voice purred.

Her fur bristled and her grip on the communicator tightened ominously. "Loki? Wh – what the hell are you calling for?"

Loathing enemies do not call you on cord-attached phones. Unless...

Oh no.

"Haven't you been watching the news? You're so informed about everything, I assumed you'd know." The Loki jeered cheerfully on the other end. Thank goodness this wasn't a video call; she wouldn't have been able to handle it.

"No, as a matter of fact." She gave a quick turn – too quick. A sharp pain from her side had sprung up to attention and she bit down a grunt. "Don't beat around the bush, Loki. What do you want?"

"The artefact. It is –"

"I don't have it, Cinnamon Bun."

"Oh ho, I know you don't." He sounded far too...cheery. He was in a good mood. Someone listening to this out of context would assume some guy was chattering to a friend rather than taunting someone they had tried to strangle before. "But there is something that came to my attention about it. I'd like it resolved before we got our hands on it."

Trisby's frown deepened very, very slowly. "...And that is?"

"I have a feeling you know."

Cheeriness was over. She tucked her free arm into the crooked of her 'phone holding' elbow.

"Again I don't know much more than Ratchet or his pally-wallies do at this point, Loki."

"You're a liar."

He was sneering now. Trisby leaned against the wall. "You couldn't help it, could you? You have the artefact and the purple mouse and you need to gloat. Don't you find that a bit undermining to your plans?"

"It doesn't matter if you know." The Loki returned hotly, "But fine. I'll let you play dumb, my dear. The casing around it. I want to know who built it, why, and when."

"And how to open it." Trisby quipped, "Beyond me. And if I was willing to go and find out – which your lazy tail can't manage – what would be in it for me?"

"Don't make any deals." Marvo wheezed dizzily from his chair. Trisby's smile faltered but she didn't reply.

"Oh, you will." The Loki crooned. "I'm willing to give you the purple wretch."

Trisby stared at the wall. He never would. It wasn't possible for him to stay loyal to a person let alone a deal. "...You wouldn't hand him over if your life depended on it."

"I don't need him for an extended period of time. I'll trade you a messed- up vessel with a smudge of Lifeforce within for access to a far larger, uncorrupted amount."

Trisby's brow creased. "...It's not my decision to make." Obviously she wouldn't do it.

"Considering your 'pals' are bouncing between planets, chasing their own jet trails, I believe it does." The Loki returned evenly.

Trisby lifted the communicator away from her ear, groaned, and then brought it back. "I'll think about" She was too tired to think up and insult.

"I knew you would." The Loki chortled. "Ta, Ta, my Dear. I look forward to our next discussion."

The good thing about old fashioned commutation devices was that you could slam them back on the pad.

Trisby leaned against the wall, nearly sliding down. Of course they she wouldn't help them open the darn thing.

The lombax could save himself. But, this little 'negotiation' could be an opening to...something. The cat-like woman rubbed either side of her head, forcing down a groan.

If nothing else got in the way.


Sound didn't bother Percival Locksher. Comes with the territory of only having one ear. What he hated was light and there was a bright red one shining down into his corneas like a decidedly nasty sun. Of course Tachyon couldn't use a standard 'white' interrogation light. His lips pulled up in a lopsided smile; a brow arching. "You know, red's fine and all, but police use a white light for a reason, you know."

"I didn't ask your opinion on my choice of lighting." Tachyon drawled. He didn't sound as irked as he should have, and that was a bad sign. In fact he almost sounded pleasant. The kind of pleasant that made your skin crawl. He could see the silhouette of the large-headed cragmite standing some yards away fiddling with something in those grubby paws of his. The purple lombax chewed on his lip; the gesture was in no way nervous, it just made him look all the more crude.

"You know I'll just regenerate."

"You are immune to dying. That irks me." Tachyon stepped into the light, his gaze latched onto the tool in his hand rather than the pale-eyed lombax, "But you aren't immune to pain."

His lip curled into a lopsided smile; he said it more to himself than the purple being. Said lombax smirked openly,

"Is it really that hard for you to look at me? Its might be his face, but it isn't him."

The tool – resembling some kind of spiky-ended screwdriver – hovered suddenly between his eyes. He didn't even wince, though his eyes threatened to go cross-eyed. The cragmite tensed a little more at that.

"Oh, believe me; it wouldn't have made much of a difference. This whole thing is down to him; if he'd stopped being a fool and left the artefact where it was, none of this would have happened."

"So he made you attack the galaxy. Oh yeah. It's all comin' togeth-"

People often forget that Percival Tachyon is, indeed, insane. Or near it. One moment he was close to calm, a little annoyed – the next he had dove the tool into the purple lombax's shoulder with such force it split the flesh. Percy's words turned into a strangled yelp and he stared, in actual alarm for once, at the tool protruding from his shoulder.


Tachyon seized the fur on his working ear and gave it a painful tug. Percy's eyes narrowed, his teeth barred as the cragmite jerked his head back his way, so he was forced to look at him.

The cragmite gave an especially ugly smirk, "That's rather ironic coming from the lombax that couldn't bear to have me speak to him. But you'll be speaking now. Not about the fool that sired you, but about the confounded, filthy Lifeforce artefact."

Percy grinned widely through his pained grimace.


Lifeforce Chapter 71

"It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend."
William Blake

Cold Fire

Rectangles of light were spaced down the corridor like a kind of inverted line of windows. The hall was dark, without a single lamp, but there were various doors open. Hence the rectangular light pouring his way. Skii liked the dark. He could huddle there, with no one bothering him. But even in these shadows he felt out of place; the palace was always grand, red and gold. The carpet beneath him felt unnatural. He wasn't going to the study he'd visited the day before. Maliko wanted to see him in the more private quarters, were no prying head-fins (hearing sensors in the place of ears) would detect them,

That meant only one thing.

Of course Maliko noticed. Of course he'd seen the delay. No one else would've chalked up much significance in a five-minute delay. Anything could have happened, especially to someone who hadn't been to Fastoon before. Skii was young. Not a child, past 18, but young. He had an influx of excuses he could use...

He didn't dare. He'd get his butt whooped by someone half his size if he tried it.

Heck he didn't even know how to explain what happened to him. He didn't understand it, so how the heck could he make Emperor Maliko understand it?

He stopped, a peg-leg just a few yards away from the last door's pouring light. He could smell burning kindle. Maliko had a fire lit. He always was more old fashioned than he needed to be. The scent of a fireplace was familiar, almost comforting, and somehow that made the situation all the more screwed up. He'd kicked himself mentally so many times on the way back that he was sure he'd have end up having physical bruises.


Good grief, God damn –

He strode into the light. Maliko stood with his back to him; pipe in hand, staring up at an overly large screen depicting the events of that same morning. Skii glanced at the clock in the lounge. It was late. Had it really taken all that time to get back?

He wandered in, exhaling slowly. Blank face. Per usual.

"You know why you're here?"

Skii paused deliberately. Answering too quickly was suicide. "I was late."


Maliko lit a match against his pipe. He said nothing for some time. Skii took to glancing around the room; at the red walls, the fireplace. The heat, after coming from the cool outdoors, wasn't welcoming. He felt slightly smothered. He always did, in the palace.

Pampered palace brat, his friend Wilt's voice sang at the back of his head. His lip curled.

"I'm glad one of us finds this funny."

Skii dropped his almost-grin instantly. Maliko had turned; staring right at him, pipe in hand. He didn't look half-amused as he usually did. His face was hardened and there was something about the look in his eyes that could made one feel like they were being stung on the inside.

"I wasn't thinking about...that, sir."

"So. A penny for your thoughts?

Skii glanced away. "I know. I slipped up. I thought too much and took too much time –"

"Thought about what, exactly?" Maliko's voice was perfectly light but Skii knew better. The older man placed his small, claw like hands behind his back, scrutinising him. Skii resisted the urge to rub the back of his neck. He kept his voice mallow.

"...It just crossed my mind that I a different situation. My target was...slightly different, too."

Maliko wasn't glaring, but his stare was far worse; with just the hint of a frown. Skii trailed off. He might as well as admitted it. He didn't know. Honestly, he wished he could forget that fact that maybe for a moment he'd...

"...I only let this pass because you are young and inexperienced." Maliko drawled, turning his head. Skii said nothing. "Though I did not put you through all that advanced training for you to waste your skills. There are not many assassins that can manage your shots, Skii. I hope you don't think you're getting special treatment just for that."

Skii winced. "I don't."

Maliko's lip curled into a half smile. "I know. But this can't happen again." The grin was gone as quickly as it came. "The Empire won't miss it next time."

Skii nodded once. He just wanted to be out of here. Maliko waved a dismissive hand and Skii turned away, moving back the way he'd come. He felt a huge weight lift from him; at least –

"Oh, and by the way. Surprise mission. You have to help Bagogg on his rounds."


"All night."



Dinkles slammed against something cold, smooth, but sturdy. And...transparent. A telltale hiss of sealing parts rang out around him and by the time the cat-like creature had righted himself, it was already too late to escape. He was trapped in a bubble-like container; glass like the jar-like prisons present on Ephemeris. He knocked a paw hard against the smooth surface, but it didn't budge. He wasn't a Grivelnox, or anything like it – shattering this protective glass was out of the question.

He saw his reflection staring back at him. He gave a small, hopeless exhale. He had no idea where they'd dragged the Purple Lombax to; he looked pretty rugged the last time he'd seen him. Wait, why was his reflection grinning. This wasn't funny, Reflection, honest sometimes he didn't know his own-

Oh no, wait a moment –


Tap- tap.

The Loki, on the other side, gave a dry chortle and tapped his knuckles against the glass. Dinkles drew back, the sound trapped in the small space bouncing painfully off his sensitive ears.

"It's odd, isn't it, how...mishaps occur in nature." The Loki remarked, a single brow lifted. Dinkles' ears bent as he watched him pace around the small glass dome. "A millennia of evolution and yet, still the unexpected appears."

The small cat frowned, just a tad, and stared down at his paws. The Loki gave him a scrutinising look. "Loki have possessed creatures for over a thousand years and you're the first to be...changed by it. Odd, isn't it?" Something in that tone of his was accusing, almost. Dinkles returned a wavering scowl, unable to do anything else.

He gave a little shrug. The Loki look unimpressed. "Hmph. Well, we'll see, won't we? For now you'll be keeping out of trouble, or those...I can't hurt you if I want to keep my host's body alive." He gave a nasty smirk that was enough to send most cats sprinting. Dinkles cringed. "But the tharpods are another matter."

The mutated cat bore his teeth just a little. The Loki actually laughed heartily; no chortle, no chuckle, laughed.

A friendly reminder that he's just as insane as Nefarious and Tachyon.

"Oh, do keep up your spirits in some way, Little One." He sauntered off; hands behind his back, head tilted up. "I need a good laugh in these stressful times."

Dinkles eyed the back of his head as he went, his mind working fast. Oh no, he'd be escaping, even if he had to squeeze himself through the tinniest space between the glass. He'd do it.


Bagogg's weapon factory was only lit with green lights. Eerie as the effect was, it did little to help along construction. Skii wandered along the moving conveyer belts; various parts of equipment idly moving along his side. Bronze metal mechanics and gears that were beyond him. He wasn't a mechanic.

He shivered. Huh. It was chilly. Unusually chilly. He glanced around, brow up, and saw the chamber was quite empty. Ahead lay an elevator; above, Bagogg's overhang. He could see the glass observance windows above but he couldn't see the warrior himself. The area felt all the more empty at that. Skii scowled, his senses sharpening by instinct.


He glanced to the left. A piece of a canon had fallen off the conveyer belt. The hum of the machines droned on, undisturbed. So if the machine wasn't malfunctioning then...

If this was Wilt playing a trick on him, he was going to have to hurt him.

"This ain't funny."

A rickety sound dragged through the suspended beams above the factory. Like some massive weight was pressing down on them, but again he saw nothing. He scowled.

Anata wa watashi o me ga samemashita

It was barely a voice; thick, distorted; a high pitched mutter clashing with a deep, rumbling grumble. It was freezing. He rubbed his elbows; the breath came away like steam from his lips. "What the f –"

He saw it. In the corner; hidden in the shadows of one of the hulking machines. Squeezed in the narrow space between the metal generator and the wall; a body, transparent blue; an arm slinking out. Claw-like fingers curled around the humming generator and a face tipped out into the light; a single eye like a stretched four-point star stared right back at him –

His spear-staff was off his back and in his hands.

What the hell, what the hell, what the hell.

He scowled, back arching, and loaded his weapon. The balled end began charging up with plasma. "What are you?"

And it came crashing back into his mind like a hover car with a broken pair of brakes. The blue hand reaching out from the rock. The ice spreading across the crater in the mountain. In his worry over the hesitant kill, he'd completely, utter, totally forgotten. And now here it was, of course, coming back to bite him tenfold.

He shot towards the figure – one he saw had a tail but no legs, but it soared right through them. It was slightly curved around the sides, the face bony, but it was hard to tell since it appeared to be made of murky smoke. Akin to that cold air that rising off an ice cube the moment you pull it out of a freezer.

"Who are you?"

Ice was travelling gently up the side of the generator. Skii's eyes widened. "Stop –"

The figure was gone. Poof, a puff of smoke. But the ice wasn't. In fact it had completely engulfed the generator in a matter of seconds. Skii could only gape as the mechanisms inside jammed and the whole thing began rumbling. An alarm blasted above him; red lights flashing overhead. "Damn it!"

He sped over to the emergency shut-down – but as soon as he reached out to slam his palm down on the button the ice spread over that, too. He heard yelps of anger and alarm ring out from the hallway. Skii gritted his teeth and hurried over.

He poked his head out the doorway. The venomous green hall lights were blinking; swinging in a cold, unnatural breeze. Various guards had stopped in their tracks, staring around with wide-eyed looks as ice slid across the floor; crystal like and jagged.

"What's going on?"

"Is this some kind of a joke?!"

"Someone's gonna hurt if it is...!"

The alarms died. Skii blinked and looked back at the generator – it had been shut down. With a quick, panicked glance, he looked towards the button and saw Bagogg, sneering irritably, had smashed the ice hovering it. The warrior sent a harsh scowl his way; teeth barred.

"What happened?"

"I dunno..." Skii muttered. Bagogg didn't look spooked at all. Skii wasn't afraid, just...weirded out. But Bagogg didn't seem bothered in the slightest. The warrior gave a raucous huff.

"Probably just the cooling liquids from sector B seeping into the air conditioning system too fast. You shouldn't be so jumpy." A friendlier grin played at his broad lips. Skii offered a far weaker one in return.

"Just cautious, never jumpy." He returned. Bagogg rolled his eyes and moved back towards the elevator to his overhang, chortling inwardly.

"Come on, then. There's something I wanted to show you before we get to work."

Skii followed him. Had he really seen that? Had it just been cold fumes or frozen air or whatever the heck Bagogg was talking about?

No. He'd seen that. He wasn't insane.

He needed to tell his friends, he surmised. Tonight.


Ratchet knew he'd done this before a thousand times. So why did he feel jittery. Well, when he said he'd done it thousands of times, he meant battling a crazy villain. He'd fought another lombax before. A maniac before. A heavily armoured villain before. All of the above, but he was certain he'd never fought a crazy orange lombax on hover boots wielding a natural planetary pheromone (that being electricity fields caught between suspended boulders and the scraggly ground) with his arch nemesis. Orange was literally a lightning rod; either hand holding a device that drew the lines of light to his grip.

He almost looked like one of those ribbon dancers; only far more demented and the ribbons weren't harmless pink fabric, but long tendrils of lightning that Ratchet was sure would kill each of them in one hit. Clank and Nefarious weren't safe from this. In fact they were in more danger – their circuits would be fried if they so much as brushed it with their figurative pinkes. Nefarious pulled his limbs back into place with a rickety 'pop', still battered from his fall. "All right, let's get done with this."

"Couldn't have said it better myself." Ratchet tried at a grin and managed a weak smirk.

"Didn't know you dabbled in rugby, Nefarious – that was some tackle." Tenahee quipped.

Nefarious rounded on her, fist raised, back arched and Ratchet was just about to step in when a flash of pale blue sprinted towards them. He caught in out of the corner of his eye and kicked Nefarious back. The bolt of electricity missed them by an inch; striking the steps behind them with an ear-shattered crackle.

"Aaaw, that's no fun, little fishies." Orange called from above, swooping closer. "I thought you loved the thrill of adventure!"

"Using electricity to fry the fish is not good sportsmanship." Clank remarked from Ratchet's back. Orange glanced to the side, as if sending some kind of imaginary audience an unimpressed look. Ratchet took that moment to leap up and throw his wrench; it spun like a boomerang through the air towards Orange. Thank God he'd hovered closer to gloat.

But Orange wasn't prone to typical bad guy mistakes. At least, not as much as say, Nefarious. He saw the wrench coming, turned his head and grinning merrily at it as it flew towards his face.

He tossed a bolt of lightning at it. The blue spark bounced clean off the metal and rickashayed towards the ground below. Ratchet took off to the left, Tenahee to the right; Nefarious leaped back and Raymas stepped out of the way.

The lightning broke apart the surface of the rock; singing it to a crisp. Tenahee tossed Ratchet a small blaster; one kept as a last resort. Ratchet began firing up at Orange, aiming for the boots; Tenahee aimed for the device in his hands. Orange swooped around like a fly avoiding a rolled up newspaper, cackling jubilantly.

"Missed me! You'll have to do better than that, little fishies!"

Clank was holding tight to the artefact; still attached to Ratchet's back. "Ratchet, he is playing with us! We have the artefact, and we are running out of time!"

"He's right, Ratchet – let's just leave!" Tenahee called, hitting her palm against her own jamming blaster.

"Nonsense!" Nefarious bellowed, shooting blasts of plasma up at the crazed orange lombax, "We have to stop him meddling in our affairs once and for all!"

"Hate to agree with Nefarious, Clank, but as long as this nut ball keeps dragging us back, we need to deal with him!" Ratchet called over the sound of frenzied shooting. Clank gave a pronounced sigh.

Orange suddenly dropped. Ratchet gave a massive start at the sight, but before the other lombax hit the ground he soared right towards him. A hand seized him by the neck and the ground vanished from beneath his feet. Ratchet gagged; he heard Clank calling out but couldn't quite hear. Orange had hoisted him high off the ground by the neck. He lashed out, clawing at his face, but the other lombax tipped back and snickered.

"You're just as mortal as anyone else here." He said, his voice horribly low. Only Ratchet could hear him as he rose higher. "You've only gotten here by destroying, killing, plundering and luck. Only you say is for good while I say what I do is for...giggles."

Ratchet could barely think. He forced his next words out from his starved lungs, "I only destroy people like you."

Orange's menacing grin broadened."Like Alister?"

It hurt. It hurt more than Ratchet thought it would. His insides blazed and he lashed out; reaching for Orange's neck, but Orange placed both hands on his windpipe and squeezed. Ratchet's leg kicked but he couldn't get free. The world swam in front of his eyes. He couldn't breathe. Couldn't...

Something hit Orange. Something with a round head and big round eyes.


He'd struck Orange over the head with the ball-like artefact. Orange gave a groggy snarl. Then he grinned. And then let go. Ratchet plummeted, heart leaping, spinning in the air –

He landed with a thud on the rocky ground. He didn't feel pain, not right away. All he could concentrate on was the fact he couldn't breathe in. His whole body felt numb. His vision was still foggy. Then the stabbing pains began in his back, his legs, his chest. Air slid into his lungs at last but it burnt. It was incredibly painful to inhale.

Clank was standing over him, jaw hanging open, horror clear on his face. Then, the pain began fading. A blissful cool was spreading through his back, all the way to his toes. Clank was gazing at his shoulder in wonder. Ratchet's vision cleared and his hearing flipped back on.

The pale blue circle on Ickabar's shoulder belt was gleaming again. Ratchet sat up. He felt like he'd drank a cold bottle of water and had a massage. All good things. His head felt miraculously clear. "I'm fine. I'm fine."

Clank flopped down beside him, looking drained. His little antenna was flopped in an almost comical imitation of an animal with sad, bent ears. "...That is...fortunate, Ratchet. It is a good thing I do not have an organic heart."

Ratchet grinned, but it was short-lived. Tenahee's blaster had been shot out of her hand. She gave a broken yelp and stumbled back, hand singed, as Orange whooped above. "That's a shame, Pretty Thing – want me to kiss it better?"

"Not on your life!" Tenahee muttered. She staggered back to Ratchet, narrowly avoiding another lightning bolt. The yellow lombax was on his feet seconds later.

"All right we need to take him down, now." Ratchet saw his wrench lying nearby and scooped it up. He had the niggling feeling he'd forgotten something. Then it hit him.

"Guys, where's the artefact?!"

A rumbling noise split the air. All parties raised their heads. Raymas hobbled over, scowling, as he caught sight of what they were seeing. Ships. Tachyon's cruisers to be exact. They'd ran out of time.

Orange didn't like being ignored.

He swooped down, two blades flipping out from his sleeves. Ratchet and Tenahee jumped; Tenahee ducked, Ratchet lifted his wrench to parry. Both of them blocked each knife; Ratchet's wrench, Tenahee's broken gun. Orange grinned merrily down at them; the pressure of his hover boots threatening to make their legs buckle.

"Hullo, friendzies." He said.

"Orange, Tachyon's gonna get the artefact if you don't stop being crazy!" Ratchet barked. Orange sneered, leaning in closer; the pressure gathered. Raymas slowly lifted a blaster.

Orange broke the hold, flipped up, and kicked the older man in the stomach. He sent him crashing to the floor before Ratchet could stop him. Where was Nefarious?!

Tenahee sprinted to Raymas. Ratchet lunged at Orange; the guy had finally landed on the ground. He side-stepped out of the yellow lombax's way; one hand seized Tenahee by the back of the neck; the other arm wrapped around Ratchet's. He kicked Clank away before he could stop him and dragged both of the shorter lombaxes to his sides; effectively strangling them both. Ratchet kicked out, Tenahee tried to bite him but failed. Orange's maniacal grin grew.

"Don't worry. You won't feel a thing..."

Spots were appearing in front of Ratchet's vision again. He could hear Tenahee whimpering, he could barely force out a breath now. "C-Clank...!"


Ratchet stiffened. Tenahee froze. Orange slowly looked down. Red blossomed through the fawn jumper under his black tenchcoat. It dripped to the floor. Ratchet's eyes bulged. He could feel the other lombax weaken, felt him go cold. Orange's brown eyes glanced his way, wide, frozen, and for a moment it was as if he was looking at a totally different person. He looked as surprised as they did.

His grip loosened and he fell to his knees. Ratchet and Tenahee, at either side of him, stared mutely at the back of his head.

Orange gave a small, trembling chuckle, and fell on his side with a flop. Ratchet couldn't think.


He turned. Nefarious was standing a few yards away, jaw grinding crookedly, a blaster smoking in his hand.

The artefact tucked under his arm.

"No..." Clank breathed. A gash-like grip stretched on the robot's face and Nefarious leaped into the air; blasted up on his over hover- boots.

"Thanks for the help, suckers."

And he blasted off towards the oncoming cruisers.

Ratchet and Clank: Lifeforce Chapter 71

Again, a longer wait. Longer than I realised. I apologise for that guys, but I want to be comfortable writing this. Its far easier with the extra time and space I give myself.

Yeah...71 chapters...and we still dunno what the heck that ghostie thing is. But we will. Once we get the cragmites characters developed a little so we actually care :D

*Audience groans*


I can't work out poles. Think you need a premium membership. Since I can't draw to save my life and I seem to be getting worse at it, I began wondering how my watchers, and the people I watched, got where they are. I don't just mean people who are experts. Just anyone whose style has changed over the years.

How did you guys improve? By practice and pure raw talent? Did some of you guys go to art college? Are some skills best learnt in graphics?
Youtube tutorials? XD And what's the hardest things you find in drawing? Mine is faces at certain angles. They are the devil.
You WILL write more Weasel Stories by What-if-Writer
You WILL write more Weasel Stories
"Or we will see WHO USES THE DUCT TAPE."

Professor put down the gun.

Guess who's been watching some Conker's BFD cutscenes again. I'll say it now, I love cartoon weasels. Always have; Toon Patrol, Wacky Weasel, the various version of those guys from Wind in the Willows (it's our secret of survival in a very nasty - ) and I've also always loved evil scientists; hence my love of Crash Bandicoot where almost every good bad guy falls under that category. And here's a mash of the two. 
I love the Professor in that his past is ambiguous. Some say he's the fabled Weasel King who was forced into submission under the panthers; race numbers falling to an all time low and legs getting the chop. Some say he was a battle master whose legs were blown off in a war. Or both. Either way, the professor is a character with a lot to him, surprisingly.

This dumb game has a lot of Lore, even with Conker - his ancestors, how they tied in with the Milk Wars, his later reign of kingliness against the Tediz who try to resurrect the Panther King. A lot of thought was put into a game where everything talks, the Grim Reaper has green shoes and hangs at the bar, Missing table legs are scientific inquiries and giant piles of droppings sing opera.
Again, Von Kriplespac had a lot to him. Not only was he a smart as hell scientist (with some lapses, such as the table and milk dilemma, which can easily be chalked up to the fact he's kookoo for coco puffs)  but he was also a terrifying leader once with a whole load of power. And he's hilarious. I love this guy so much.

So what would a legless, bat-sh*t crazy weasel king do if he got his hands on an interdimensional being with the power to write changes in reality?

Urgh. I had various different version of this. This is the closest thing to 'good' I could get. I can't shade, I can't draw weasels. I see all these brilliant artists and die inside. So I worked with what I'm good at. Colours. I have to admit it looks better up close grrr. I may uploaded changes.


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PinkSaphira Featured By Owner 9 hours ago  Student Artist
Happy early birthday! Thought I might forget tomorrow, so I decided to say this now. :)
What-if-Writer Featured By Owner 8 hours ago
Thanks so much XD
Paulkitteh Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2015  Student General Artist
Heya ! ^^
What-if-Writer Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2015
Heya XD
Paulkitteh Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2015  Student General Artist
How r u? Long time no see.
What-if-Writer Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2015
Good ^^ Though very busy these past two years. You?
(1 Reply)
TomFromCzechRepublic Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2015  Student Filmographer
Thanks for the awesome and well written stories on!
What-if-Writer Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2015
Thanks so much ^^
TomFromCzechRepublic Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2015  Student Filmographer
You're welcome pal!
Dracunnum Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the fav ! :glomp:
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